Dear Justin Timberlake: A Seven Minute Song is Not a Single


Justin Timberlake doesn’t know what a single is. That much became shockingly clear Friday, when he released his new “single” “TKO”. This “single” is seven minutes long. SEVEN. That is more than twice the average length of a pop song and more than twice the amount of “No thank you.”

“TKO” should be great. Timberlake is back to working with Timbaland, the man responsible for some of the greatest pop hits of the past decade. It’s certainly has better bones than the abomination that is “Suit and Tie” though it still sounds far too much like every single song Timberlake released off of The 20/20 Experience, which is to say they’re just watered down versions of what we heard on Futuresex/Lovesounds. It has a better title than “Take Back The Night“, the first single from The 20/20 Experience: 2 of 2 (the first 20/20 Experience wasn’t enough). But that length. Imagine turning on the radio in the car at the beginning of a song and realizing it was seven minutes long. Justin Timberlake might think, “Hey, The Beatles did it with ‘Hey Jude’ – it’s probably cool for me.” No Justin. No it is not. It is rude and entitled to try and dominate the airwaves with your latest pop abomination.

Timberlake has previously pushed his audience’s tolerance for this lengthy bullshit with the release of his music video for “Mirrors” which clocks in at 8 minutes and 21 seconds, so clearly, this has become a problem. Even the fact that he decided we’d missed him so much he needed to put out two albums of sub-par content in a year speaks to his clear misinterpretation between quality and quantity. He’s getting lazy. He won’t edit. The bridge of “TKO” doesn’t come in until after most normal singles would have ended. Listening to it, it feels as though you went to a party, decided to take over the host’s music and clicked repeat to loop your track over and over again, only repeatedly yell, “I FUCKIN LOVE THIS SONG!!!” much to your next-day embarrassment.

There’s nothing wrong with writing a seven minute song and putting it on your album, somewhere towards the end. Artists do indulgent things like that all the time; India.Arie’s first album, for which she won multiple Grammys, has lots of weird intros, outros and interludes where she talks about love and feelings. That’s what the album is for: all that indulgent stuff that your mass audience isn’t interested in. But don’t present it like it’s just a little bite. A seven minute song isn’t a snack, it’s a meal. And right now we’re way too full and it’s uncomfortable.

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